Cosmetic filler treatments have surged in popularity over the past decade. Each year, at least ten million people around the world get injections to soften creases, plump their lips, or fill out wrinkles. During the treatment, a gel-like solution is injected into the patient’s face to increase skin volume.
This technique is used to plump up facial areas like the cheeks or lips or fill in wrinkles from inside the skin. These “liquid facelifts” are considered to be minimally invasive. They do not require anaesthesia or incisions. Yet, like all medical procedures, they are not without risk.
Although rare, complications are possible. In 2012 in the United States, an estimated 2 million cosmetic injections were performed. Of these, as many as 800 patients reported serious complications. One potential complication occurs when the cosmetic injectable is accidently injected directly into a blood vessel, rather than into the soft tissues of the face. The injected filler blocks blood flow and may cause the patient’s skin to turn red or blotchy. If left untreated, the tissue could die, leaving deep scars.
This complication has been difficult for doctors to avoid because, until recently, it was impossible to see exactly how the injected dermal filler behaves once injected into the tissue of the face. Newly developed imaging technology allows doctors to see what is happening within the smallest blood vessels as the cosmetic injectable enters the skin. This state-of-the-art technology can be used to prevent complications during the injection process. If problems develop, 3D imaging can help doctors reverse them by injecting a filler-dissolving enzyme to clear the blockage.
The 3D imaging technology used during cosmetic treatments is entirely non-invasive. The process works by shining a special light on the skin, creating a fine-resolution image of the vascular system. Unlike with older imaging technologies, there is no need to touch the tissue or add any fluorescent dyes. This makes it an effective, easy-to-use tool during non-invasive treatments.
Practitioners across Australia have begun adopting these new technologies, which enable visualisation of how the body reacts to the injection of cosmetic filler gel. This allows them to more precisely inject the filler material, leading to enhanced fine-tuning of the results of the injection procedure.